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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Intuition


Fortisip™ is a nutritional supplement, a palatable, ready-made milkshake style drink made by the company Nutricia, for the dietary management of disease related malnutrition. Fortisip is often useful to reduce the amount of weight loss in people with cancer, helping them build up their strength and withstand the effects of the cancer and its treatment.

That little bottle brings back some bad memories for me. Memories of seeing this end up as my dad's only source of nutrition. Eventually, as his ability to swallow became more and more limited, he ended up taking a supplement via an external pump directly into his stomach as he could manage only water, coke and the odd scotch. Memories of, a few days after his funeral, dumping cartons and cartons of supplements at the local tip, because the NHS won't re-use any medical supplies already issued. His morphine and other drug supplies were turned into the pharmacy.

A couple of days ago, I felt a strong need to go to visit my mum, so I booked a flight out on December 28, returning January 5. Something told me I have to make a visit, something propelled me to book the flights as soon as I thought of it. Then today, her latest medical report arrived and it's worse news than usual. It seems she's only able to eat soup and yoghurt so the consultant has prescribed Fortisip. So, this little bottle appears back in our lives. It must be doubly hard for her as she goes down the road she watched her husband of almost fifty years go down. She's lost her appetite it seems and is rather quickly losing weight. My mum has a neighbour who is a wonderful lady and who cooks regularly for her. She's a personal chef and often takes to the highlands to do weekends at country homes. Through her kindness when she's at home in her little cottage nearby, my mum has been lucky to have had good, nutritionally sound, interesting food. I wonder if she's told her yet that she's not eating what she makes any more.

She's also now not able to get upstairs in the house, in one go. She apparently has to rest mid-way to try to catch her breath. She no longer goes for walks, apparently. Well I know for a fact she hasn't for a long time. But at least she's being more honest with her medical specialists which is, I'm sure, a good thing. She now has three items under 'diagnosis': Added to the Recurrent Lung Cancer and COPD, we now have Smoking Habit. She has told the consultant she smokes a pack a day - I know it's more than that. Against medical advice, she has again refused a chest x-ray because she quite simply doesn't want to know just how bad things are. But I do understand that part of it all. She wants these diseases to take her.

I called my mother yesterday to tell her of my travel plans (before I got the medical report). She was sounding very hoarse and struggling a little for breath. She asked me to go shopping for her to find some jumpers, which is the first time she's asked me to do that. I guess she's not even able to get to the shops now. I order her wine so that leaves just her cigarettes and as she's good friends with a chain smoker, I'm sure she's got that covered via her visits. She mentioned that she'd spoken with my sister who had pointed out that her voice sounds really bad and my mum had basically told her to mind her own business. OK, I thought, scrap the idea of asking too much about her health. When I did ask just in a general sort of so how are you doing, all I got was the usual "Oh I'm fine, just fine."

So it seems my visit is very timely, I hope she'll talk with me honestly about how things are and what she needs done. Already I think she needs her bedroom moved from upstairs to downstairs, to limit the times she has to climb the stairs. If she has to stop midway now, it won't be long until she's unable to manage them at all. I'm hoping the Macmillan nurse has a visit while I'm there so I can speak with her about additional ways to support my mum. Something tells me she may end up in care before her days are done. I know she'd hate that but I hope she understands it may be necessary.

Along with my extreme happiness right now, this is weighing heavily upon me. It won't be an easy visit as there will be some tough conversations. I just hope we can get on with each other. Being in that house is so very hard since my dad passed away.

My love was there for me this morning when I reached out to him after hearing the bad news about my mum's health. He reached right back out to me from so far away and comforted me with his words and his love, and his promise to be beside me every step of the way as I go through what lies ahead. I know he'll always be there for me and I've never had that before in my relationships. I am so blessed to have found this man, and to have had him find me. I hope my mother gets to meet him, to know him.

13 comments:

kimba said...

Oh hon. I know this relationship is not an easy one for you. I hope things get softer and easier when you get to visit.

Interesting you start up with the reminder of your father's illness.. for me it was Bonne Bell lip balm. The day he died I remember he asked me to apply some lip balm as his lips were so sore and dry.. it was my favourite brand I had used for a few years.. and now just the sight of a tube of the stuff gives me a flashback and a pain in my head.. almost 20 years later..

Matt K. said...

I'm sorry for the pain this will cause you in the time to come, but in the end, your mother will be in a better, happier place (I'm assuming she's religious and probably some variety of Christian or Catholic, so she believes in heaven and all that). Remember to consider that in your dealings with her, so as to not let her have too negative an effect on you, and count your lucky stars you have your man upon whom you can lean when you need the added strength.

PS: when you do finally jump the pond for good, I'd be interested in visiting! It's probably the closest you'll get to living near me! ;-)

D said...

Fiona Sorry to hear that about your Mom and the memories it has brought back around your Dad. If it's any consultation I know 2 people that would love to pop up to the Borders to say hello and try to cheer up on your UK visit. Oh and I may negotiate sneaking Bella along for a visit too. x

deb said...

Your mum sounds a lot like my father in law, unable to let down the drawbridge, let people in and be honest. It's tough to watch.

There's nothing I can really say, other than I hope it takes her quickly and quietly. That's how I'd want to die.

Take care sweetie.

Sunny Delight said...

Oh darling woman, I wish there were a way to soothe your pain, I am very happy you have your love in your life to help you along this journey. I have no way of truly knowing how it feels, I can only imagine. As you go through this, know, that all of us wish you the best,and as Kimba said, I too hope things get softer and easier.
A big SUH1

S'mee said...

You've done right Fi. A difficult trip but it's for you as much as your mother. Give the Mac nurse a call and ask her to be there ( Doc's surgery should be able to put you in contact).

Hope it all goes well. SUHs.

freebird said...

Oh Fi, I'm so sorry. But how wonderful that 'he' is there for you so completely.
Yes, I think I know the two people D is thinking of ;-)

Laurie said...

Fiona, so so sorry to hear about your mom. So glad you have your love to buttress you...

D said...

Fiona yes on a different matter what S'mee is so right about the Mac nurses as you know they are close to my heart and for good reason. As some one that uses all the resources available to them please try and make sure that your Mom has contact with them and if not her then at least for yourself. Take care Dx

cj said...

I'm hoping for strength for you through this.

Sunshine said...

I'm sorry to hear the sad news about your mum. I hope you have a blessed visit with her.

Little Wing said...

For everything, there is a season, and a time and a purpose under Heaven....
Sorry to hear about your mother failing, but just remember the good times and her long life.
Hugs.

Fusion said...

Not much more I can add here but hugs Fiona!

 

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